For years now, we have used incense in our opening rite during the Sundays of Advent and Lent, and every Lent I receive questions as to the significance of incense. Incense has been associated with prayer in many world religions since ancient times. The Christian use of incense derives from our Jewish heritage. God tells Moses to use incense as a sign of God’s holiness (Ex. 30:34-38). It is Catholic tradition to use the physical elements of the created world to point to the transcendent. Both the sight and smell of incense are intended to create an atmosphere of worship. The Book of Revelation describes God’s throne in heaven with an angel burning large quantities of incense to accompany the prayers of the saints (Rev. 8:3-4).
Psalm 141 makes a similar connection between incense and prayer: “Let my prayer rise before you like incense, O Lord.” Incense, therefore, can be understood as prayer in action. We incense the entire assembly in Lent to make it clearI that we are a holy people in which God abides. As the priest passes through the congregation, I encourage you to allow the sight and smell of the incense to remind you of your holiness and move you to prayer. You might even “catch” a bit of the smoke in your hand and make the Sign of the Cross.
Incense can be used at any liturgy. Here at St. Noel, we limit its use to Advent and Lent for two reasons. First incense allows us to mark these seasons as a special time of prayer and God’s presence. Second, I am aware that a few members of our community have respiratory issues reducing their ability to tolerate incense. It is for this reason that we place a note on the church doors informing people of the presence of incense.
Those who have difficulty with incense are able to withdraw to the narthex during the part of the Liturgy when incense is used. I know it is difficult for those affected to separate themselves from the assembly for a while. This is why we consciously limit incense to only a few weeks each year. I thank those willing to adjust to the situation. Your sacrifice allows our community to retain this significant sign of God’s presence which is an ancient practice of our religious tradition.
Fr. George Smiga
WEBSITE NEWS – Those who wish to review homilies by Fr. George on our parish website will be happy to know that recent homilies will not only be available in written form but also as audio files. This will allow you to hear a recent homily on your computer, iPad, or smart phone. You can access recent homilies by visiting our parish website (stnoel.org). We are attempting to have each homily available by the Wednesday following the weekend on which it has been offered.
CATHOLIC UPDATE – March copies entitled “Seven Lessons From Pope Francis” are available in the kiosk and on the table in the narthex.
CONGRATULATIONS – to Luke Liberatore who received honors from St. Ignatius High School.
LITURGICAL MINISTER SCHEDULES FOR APRIL THRU JUNE have been mailed and emailed to all ministers. Please call the church office if you have not received your schedule.
THE CHURCH IN CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE – We will take up this collection next weekend. This collection supports Catholic organizations that provide affordable shelter and training for seminarians in a region that still struggles with the effects of Soviet rule. Fliers with further information are on the table in the narthex.
DAYTIME RETREAT – The retreat will be on Wednesday, March 19th from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The theme is “Giving Care to Care Givers” and the presenter will be our parishioner Margaret Neville, along with a panel of care givers. Sign up on the kiosk or call the office (440-946-0887). A donation of $6.00 is suggested to cover the cost of lunch.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS – Every Friday during Lent at 7:30 p.m. there will be an opportunity to pray the Stations of the Cross. This Friday, March 21st the Stations will be led by our Music Ministry.
LENTEN BAGS – Lenten bags and tags are available on the table in the Narthex. Once the bags are filled, please return them to the Food Pantry (bin on the right hand side).
FOOD PANTRY BAG – This Lent we are also beginning a new effort to support our Food Pantry. Specially designed bags are available on the table in the narthex. Use these bags when you shop for food. Simply fill the bag with items such as peanut butter, jelly, tuna fish, macaroni & cheese, and paper products. This can be returned to the rolling cart in the food pantry. When you return a full bag you can take another empty one.
LENTEN RICE BOWLS – are available on the table in the narthex. Please fill these bowls with loose change and return them to the parish office.
LENTEN FISH FRIES – The Fish Fries will continue on the Fridays of Lent (not Good Friday) at the usual 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. time. Volunteers are needed. Please sign up on the kiosk if you are able to help.
YOUNG NEIGHBORS IN ACTION: All high school teens completing 9th grade through 12th grade are invited to join Prime Time this summer on our annual summer service trip through Young Neighbors in Action. Y.N.I.A. is a week-long Catholic service-learning opportunity committed to exploring our Church’s mission in the world while connecting teens to meaningful service opportunities with other young people from across the country. This summer we will travel to Buffalo, New York, July 13th-19th. If you would like more information, please check the kiosk or contact Erica Witmer [email protected] or call 440-946-1128 x20. Space is limited and deposits are due by March 31st.
CITYMUSIC CLEVELAND is offering a free concert at St. Noel this Sunday, March 16th at 4:00 p.m. Conductor James Feddeck and soloists Shane Shanahan, Percussion and James Jaffe, Cello and narrator Ali Alhaddad will present UNG Khse Buon for cello solo, VISCONTI “Roots to Branches” World Premiere and BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 “Eroica.” After the concert, please join us for a delicious buffet dinner. For reservations, please contact the St. Noel Banquet Center 440-946-6635.
CASTLE OF THE SOUL – On Sunday, March 30th at 7:00 p.m., we would like to gather our parish community for a special contemplative prayer service entitled “Castle of the Soul.” This music consists of songs mixed with readings from the texts of St. Teresa of Avila, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St. Francis de Sales, St. Augustine, Thomas Merton and Cardinal Leo Josef Suenens. The evening will be filled with music, dancing, candles and meditations, and promises to be an engaging spiritual evening. The service is open to all ages and is a great opportunity for our parish family to spend some times together in the middle of the Lenten Season.
NICARAGUA IN JUNE – This is the final call for participants in our immersion experience to Nicaragua. The wonderful trip is scheduled for June 16th-23rd. Deadline for registration is March 28th. Please contact Anthony ASAP if you are interested in going.
LOAVES & LETTERS – Join us for an evening of advocacy on Wednesday, March 26th from 6:15-7:30 p.m. in the Small Hall. We’ll share a simple meal of soup and bread, briefly discuss the social justice issues surrounding the death penalty in Ohio, and take an opportunity to contact our elected officials via letter. All food and materials are provided, including sample letters and addresses. This is the perfect opportunity for parents of children in the CALLL program – drop off your kids and stay for Loaves and Letters. We’ll be done right when your kids are finished. Try something new and make a difference.
BAPTISM DAY will be held on Sunday, April 27th from 12:30-3:30 p.m. Parents who plan to present a child for baptism in the next six months, or have already baptized a child and have not previously attended such a day, are expected to attend. Please call the Parish Office.
ST. NOEL FELLOWSHIP – Meetings are held on Thursdays at 12 Noon in the St. Noel Banquet Center Small Hall. Activities are: On March 20th there will be socializing, meeting and luncheon of Cavetelli w/sausage & meatballs, salad, rolls & butter, dessert. For tickets call the Banquet Center (440-946-6635). The cost is $6 and deadline for tickets & payment is March 17th. On March 27th there will be bingo, and the celebration of birthdays and anniversaries. Bring something for the Food Pantry and receive a 50/50 ticket. Everyone is welcome.
THE TRUST 100 FIVE-STAR SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION for high school seniors is available in the pocket on the kiosk. Applications need to be turned in to DeJohn-Flynn-Mylott Funeral Home by April 1, 2014.
MARRIAGE ENCOUNTER WEEKENDS – Two weekends are set for the Cleveland area for 2014:June 27-29 or October 10-12. Now is the time to sign up. For more information please call:Theresa or Eric Charmley (440-533-5943) or www.WWME.org. Weekends are held at the Clarion Inn, Hudson OH.
CHRIST CHILD CLOTHING COTTAGE (located in the Painesville Common) is looking for donations of gently used children’s clothing. Donations are tax deductible.
DIVORCE SUPPORT GROUP – The Lake/Geauga Divorced and Separated Catholic Ministry invites you to a Recovery Series beginning Tuesday, April 1st through Tuesday, May 20th from 7:00 p.m.to 9:00 p.m. at St. Noel Church. These sessions are facilitated by a trained professional and all materials are provided free of charge. To register please call 440-352-6191 or email: [email protected]. See the kiosk for details.
THE CLEVELAND ECUMENICAL INSTITUTE FOR RELIGIOUS STUDIES – invites you to visit us online at www.ceirs.org where you can find the latest schedule of courses and workshops, new items, coming attractions and fuller descriptions, and a way to complete part of your registration online. Rabbi Roger Klein, Ph.D. will be presenting Genesis:The Biblical Book of Origins six Wednesdays, April 9th to May 14, 2014 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Fairmount Presbyterian Church, 2757 Fairmount Boulevard, Cleveland Heights, 44118. Cost is $90.00. Fliers are available in the kiosk.
FLOCK OF FRIENDSHIP (Singles: 40 and over) Join us for our monthly game night at St. Paschal’s Parish Life Center on Friday, March 28th at 7 p.m. Please bring a snack to share, money for pizza, and a favorite game. Please call Dan at 440-223-8707 for questions. For information on Flock of Friendship, please call 440-442-3410 or email: [email protected]. Membership is free and events are social, volunteering and spiritual.
VOLUNTEER WITH FORBES HOUSE – Lake County’s only shelter for victims of domestic violence, Forbes House, is in great need of volunteers. Training takes place in May. See the kiosk for details or contact Debbie Cordes at 440-357-7321.
RETREAT FOR YOUNG ADULTS – “Who do you say I am?” Jesus Retreat will be held at Bethany Retreat Center in Chardon on Saturday April 12th at 9 a.m. and concludes on Palm Sunday, April 13th at Noon. The Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Sunday Liturgy are incuded. Cost is $30 and covers overnight accommodations and meals. To register visit charisministries.org. For more information contact Sr. Kate Hine, SND ([email protected]) or call216-486-5555.
JESUIT RETREAT HOUSE on Wednesday, March 19th, Fr. Joseph Previte will present St. Joseph – A Model for Trusting in God During Turbulent Times? Retreats begin with coffee and pastry at 9:00 a.m. and include Mass and lunch. Cost is $25.00. To register contact Jesuit Retreat House at 440-884-9300 or visit www.jrh-cleveland.org. On Tuesday, March 25th there will be a Lenten Luncheon: Liturgy as Mystical Prayer, facilitated by Fr. Michael Woost. Luncheons begin with prayer at 11:30 a.m. and conclude by 1:30 p.m. Cost is $25. Please call or email Jesuit Retreat House to register. Tuesday, March 25th from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. will be a Lenten Evening of the Arts. Philip Metres, Ph.D. will lead us in an evening of how poetry speaks to peace. Cost is $15 and to register contact the Jesuit Retreat House.